Guerrillamum's Blog

‘Experts’, children and inclusion and why teaching is about so much more than just being an expert
November 9, 2010, 10:31 am
Filed under: A few thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Our son has been rehearsing for a concert and I have been helping to organise it. The organisation putting on the concert has always been very inclusive and those involved in working with the children are very nice people. However things came to a head last week, when one of the organisers criticised some of the children who had individual pieces to do for not being ‘of the required standard’, and sought to exclude some from playing the parts they had volunteered for. This person was not alone in their thoughts. Others within the organisation, however, leapt to the children’s defence, making clear that all children who volunteered would be included and were appreciated for their talents and all that they brought to the production.

However, the children who were ‘not of the required standard’ were not even children with SEN! The whole experience has left me with an overbearing sense of sadness that I am finding difficult to shift. Everyone else seems to have moved on, which is good, and as it should be and we are all now focussed again on getting the production on to the stage. It should be fun! The children are not aware of what happened, are all enjoying themselves and that is great.

I am still very disappointed with the attitudes of the people who criticised the children in such a negative manner. We may have won this battle but we still have a long way to go to win the war and change people’s exclusionary attitudes. I think you are probably used to hearing positive and upbeat messages from Guerrilla Mum but in truth this experience has left me weary. This is because I know my boys face attitudes like this every day, and probably will for the rest of their lives.

This is part of what worries me about free schools and using experts instead of qualified teachers to teach children. The people who were negative about the children in our production were undoubtedly experts in what they were teaching the children. However they were not trained teachers and, nice as they are, they failed the inclusion test completely. That is the lesson I would pass on to those planning free schools in which teachers do not have to be properly trained.

All of the children in the production are having a positive experience and having fun which is the main thing and what I will try to focus on in the next few days.


More Pupils to Learn a Musical Instrument

Very shocked to find the Coalition saying something with which I agree. See Telegraph article However, the caveat here is that we are only actually promised a review that ‘will attempt to “broaden access” to instruments and allow more children to learn how to read music’ by the end of the year’, in an environment where many so-called non essential services are being cut. Music lessons are a huge benefit to all sorts of children in so many ways. I note that there are only 3 comments on this article, which is a great pity. I wish more people prioritised a broad musical education highly, it helps with speaking/listening, visual and auditory memory, social skills, maths, benefits children both with and without SEN, brings communities together and it is just plain old good old fashioned fun. It really has very little to do with expectations of being on the x-factor! I have in my time seen a number of instrument lesson access policies come and go in our children’s schools, which have always in the end resulted in money being asked for from parents who want their children to learn an instrument. I will be watching with interest to see how these plans pan out, or to find out if it is just so much ‘window dressing’ or being offered as a sweetener after all the other things that are going on in Education at the moment. Even if they do get this right it is the tip of the iceberg.